You can wait for ages for a knitted art show, then two come along at once, and how different they are from each other, while geographically close so they can be seen at the same time.
Rosemarie Trockel’s early Knitted works are on show at Skarstedt Gallery in swanky St James (if you can’t find it, the doorman at the Ritz is very helpful). A contemporary conceptual artist Trockel can be relied upon to have an interesting take on what is usually considered women’s domestic work, by having her designs knitted on a machine by a technician. “I wanted to know what causes a given kind of work to be regarded by women as embarrassing, both in the past and in the present: whether this has to do with the way the material is handled of whether it really lies in the material itself.” (Kunstforum International, Feb ’88).
Have we moved on from this now, or are we more open to considering those ideas nearly twenty years down the line? The works feel sterile and flat, mimicking as they do the abstract canvases of masculine painters prevalent at the time that Trockel was poking fun at with ‘Who will be in in ’99’. The baby clinging to the giant ball of wool is another matter, made later and larger than the other works, it takes up a whole room to itself. Oddly realistic, the newborn is peacefully asleep but in danger of slipping off and being crushed by a rolling ball of brown fluff and made me very anxious — another comment on women’s work, perhaps.
(next time, Channing Hansen)
Liberty in Fashion. Photo: Daniel Lewis
Zandra reviewing some of the Free Spirit fabrics she designs for Rowan
It’s time for another day out with Rowan. Last time we went to the Clothworkers’ Centre in Kensington. This time we’re going to the Fashion and Textiles Museum in Bermondsey to see the new Liberty in Fashion exhibition. The exhibition celebrates the 140th anniversary of the iconic design store. This is the first major retrospective of the 21st century on the pioneering retailer and design studio Liberty. At the cutting edge of design and the decorative arts since 1875, Liberty is celebrated throughout the world both as a department store and for its distinctive textile prints.
Hat and scarf combos never look this good when I wear them. Photo: Daniel Lewis
Intarsia design by Dee Hardwicke
We’ll also be meeting and hearing from the indominatable Zandra Rhodes, designer extraordinaire and founder of the museum. Her studio is next door so she won’t have far to come.
Coming all the way from Herefordshire is artist Dee Hardwicke who will be giving us a workshop on designing an intarsia pattern with Rowan Tweed (all materials included of course). After all that inspiration there has to be an outlet (and some knitting). I can’t wait, which is okay as it’s on November 24, so really soon.
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On a recent trip to Marrakech we went out towards the Atlas Mountains and came across this cactus-like plant. It looks a bit like an aloe, but apparently its an agave plant. Each leaf contains long fibres that are used to make a local silk. Breaking down the fibre, retting or decortication, is probably done in the countryside by machines as in this image of processing sisal from Tanzania from 1906 and 1918.
In the souks in the heart of the medina, piles of this spun yarn are dyed and hung up in the sun to dry on long poles that reach across the streets below. The salesman was confused about someone wanting to buy the yarn rather than one of the woven scarves on sale. I’m sure I paid over the odds, but we did have a tour of the dyers’ quarter. Back home the task is to untangle the huge slippery skein. I can’t wait to knit some swatches and I’ll post them here when they’re done.
This week it’s been all about yellow. I’m sure there’s a song in there somewhere, or perhaps it’s just fashion/spring (delete as inclined).
These are part of Wanderlust by Jilly Edwards as seen at Collect 14.
Jilly Edwards, Winter Ploughing
Jilly Edwards, Field Fence
Donald Hamilton Fraser – Cyclades 1960
This shocking 60s yellow fabric is on display at the Fashion and Textile Museum as part of their Artist Fabrics exhibition.
Then the Emmanuel Cooper retrospective at Contemporary Applied Arts’ new home in Southwark (and it was all yellow too – apart from the pink ones).
Emmanuel Cooper, handbuilt pots
It has been a while since my last confession on this blog. It’s Wool Week and I’m recovering from a long weekend at the Knitting & Stitching Show, Knitting for Peace at the House of Commons, (very cool) and negotiating one of our patterns to go on the Guardian website. Later this week we’re off to the Rowan awards at Libertys, so it’s all go.
On the Knit for Peace stand at the K&S Show we were telling anyone who would listen about the kits that we send out. Each box contains yarn, needles and patterns, all donated by you, the public. These are a lifeline to women who may be stuck in a refugee holding centre with nothing to do, and means that they can knit for their families and keep themselves busy.
When I had my lunch break I hot-footed it around some of the other stalls and stumbled into Max’s World. She was selling necklaces with my name on, so one had to be purchased. I also adored her Knitting Octopus. If you are very keen you can buy the pattern (or just buy the card, that’s what I did).
Post K&S we ran on to the House of Commons for a Good Gifts reception where we talked even more about Knit for Peace. We laughed about knitting peas for peace with Susie Johns, the pea designer, and Marie Wallin from Rowan (above) who has donated a lovely crochet cowl pattern to the cause. You can read all about it and see the patterns at www.knitforpeace.org.uk